This year my kindergartener, Alice, spent a lot of classroom time learning about who Martin Luther King Jr. was and why he was important. As part of that lesson her teacher told them they'd be going on a silent peace march through the school, but I knew I wanted to continue that education outside of our little elementary school.
In early January I'd picked up some kids books on MLK Jr. for the girls, as MLK has affected our lives more than we even know. But mainly the lives of African-Americans, giving them their voices and, subsequently, some power back.
I have been a follower of Dr. King since my youth. Two moments, however, stand out in my memory as really feeling his teachings and life lessons: spending a half a year as a white student in a downtown Charleston, South Carolina university and visiting the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis on my honeymoon. I walked into the room at the Lorraine Hotel where Dr. King lost his life and I couldn't breathe. I stepped out onto the balcony to escape the sadness and, embarrassed by my reaction as a young white gal from Idaho, I ran to the street below. The tears that flowed so long and so powerfully remain etched in my skin.
I will never truly know, or 'get,' it. Neither will my girls. What we do get, though, is the importance of standing up, speaking your mind, taking a chance, fighting for your voice, being respectful, remembering history, and seeking hope for the future. If I can leave any legacy for my children, it's this:
(Thanks to Holli Woodings, State Representative, Idaho Legislature, District 19 at State of Idaho for this photo.)
*Much thanks to the Boise State University MLK Jr. Living Legacy Committee for organizing this march, providing poster making materials, homemade buttons, tee shirts, and leading the walk from the campus to the Idaho State Capitol building. They host this community event every year on MLK Jr. Day in January. Join us next year.